Sailors Involved in Warship Fire Response Test Positive for COVID-19

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At least two sailors who involved in the multi-day blaze aboard USS Bonhomme Richard have tested positive for COVID-19, the Navy confirmed Friday.

The Navy identified at least 27 close contacts of the sailors, all of whom are branch personnel, and has placed them in quarantine, according to Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman.

"Two Sailors supporting USS Bonhomme Richard firefighting operations recently tested positive for COVID-19 after exhibiting symptoms. Contract tracing identified 27 close contacts. All contacts were placed in ROM. The Navy continues to implement COVID-19 mitigations measures to protect the health of our force," Lt. Schwegman said.

Lt. Schwegman could not confirm or deny the sailors were sharing gear, and said equipment was being sanitized regularly.

Photos: Thick Smoke Billows From Unforgiving Navy Ship Fire

The firefighting response included sailors from USS Bonhomme Richard and other ships, as well as local and federal firefighters.

Crews spent four days trying to put out the flames. Navy officials described it as one of the worst fire incidents on board a warship outside of combat in recent history.

Flames burned as hot as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and onshore breezes carried the smoke as far east as La Mesa and as far north as Oceanside. An air quality advisory was issued and county residents were told to keep their windows closed and limit time outside in areas where smog from the fire was noticeable.

USS Bonhomme Richard was nearing the end of a two-year upgrade estimated to cost $250 million when the fire broke out Sunday. Navy officials said it is possible to repair the ship, but have yet to decide whether it will be. It could cost an estimated $4 billion to replace it.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story reported the sailors who tested positive shared equipment. The Navy could not confirm nor deny the sailors were sharing equipment.

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